Denny Jiosa: Dreams Like This

It’s been six years since we’ve heard from Nashville-based guitarist Denny Jiosa, a former staple of smooth jazz radio with hits such as “Lights of the City.” His fresh new CD is the project he says he’s always wanted to release. Although fans will instantly be familiar with Jiosa’s fluid and smooth guitar style and knack for hooks, he’s also dived into Latin and a touch of straight-ahead with “The Glass Half Full,” “Tranquillo” and a tribute to hero Wes Montgomery called “East of Montgomery.” There’s even a cinematic soundscape with the title track, its 7/4 time held down by drummer Chester Thompson.

The CD also offers a version of one of the most popular songs of all time: Bobby Hebb’s “Sunny” from 1966. The twist here is that Jiosa corralled Hebb into singing on the song, although Hebb rightly realized everyone’s heard the familiar vocals so much he decided to scat along instead. Good move. With all that’s going on with the CD, the best songs are still Jiosa’s versions of the killer strikeout pitch, the haunting, emotional tracks like “Midnight at the Wall” and “Wounded Warriors.”

Dreams Like This is a beefy, compelling contemporary jazz CD that rises above most in the genre.